Are you eating your emotions? You know, having a super crappy day (week, month, year) and deciding the only way to calm those turbulent emotions is by eating salty, fatty, sugary foods.
Does the idea of work meetings exhaust you — like to the point where you want to take a nap under your desk? Or, more realistically, just want to skip every important event on your schedule?
Do you want to throat-punch that annoying co-worker (Starbucks employee, your ex, or that unemployed “artist” who lives next door)? Do you feel especially anxious, nervous, or angry?
If any of this sounds familiar, you’re probably overwhelmed by stress. BUT STOP RIGHT THERE! Don’t go reaching for the ice cream, French fries or brass knuckles. They might give you some temporary pleasure but, like hooking up with you’re ex, they’ll only make you feel worse in the long run.
Don’t Stress — We’re Here to Help
Chronic stress is both a psychological and a physiological condition. When we’re stressed, our bodies release chemicals and hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which increase metabolism, heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and muscle tension.
Unresolved stress builds and can lead to both short and long-term physical problems, including impaired memory and learning abilities, hypertension, coronary heart disease, osteoporosis and a poorly functioning immune system. Chronic stress has also been linked to the development of insulin resistance, a decreased ability to control appetite, and an increase in body fat retention.
SuperFoods — Breaking the Stress Cycle
When we’re stressed out, we tend to go for those comfort foods that are high in fat and sugar, or we just plain overeat. One of the consequences of this stress-induced eating — besides taking on all those empty calories — is that it messes with our body’s ability to release leptin, the appetite suppressor hormone. In other words, stress blocks the feeling of being full, creating a vicious cycle of binging and overeating.
Research has shown that a SuperFoods diet rich in “good” carbohydrates or high in protein can suppress ghrelin — the hormone that increases appetite — more effectively than a diet high in fat.
That’s great in terms of helping control your appetite and stress eating, but what’s the connection between SuperFoods and stress itself?
In one word: serotonin.
Optimum serotonin levels can help us cope with stress. However, chronic stress can stimulate an overproduction of serotonin, which eventually leads to a shortage of it. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid needed for the body to produce serotonin — and that comes from SuperFoods. Turkey, chicken breast, wild salmon, soybeans or sardines are all great options. They’re rich in tryptophan to help you maintain proper levels of serotonin and help you cope with your stress. They’ll also help you feel full and combat stress eating.
So, if you’re feeling stressed, don’t try to throat-punch anyone or reach for all those pastries you’re craving. Instead, go for SuperFoods and portion control. They’re two powerful allies in the fight against stress.